Important Things in Life?

Every evening these days someone different in our community hosts kirtan/simran/meditation in their home, and lots of people from the sangat come together. It’s so cozy and nice to get together with people and meditate together. This evening as I sat in someone’s home meditating and singing with everyone else, it was such a clear moment for me. For most of us we go about every day life activities, dramas, happenings in life, etc. and while going through them they seem so important. As I sat there meditating with so many beautiful people, all those "worldly" things seemed to melt away and un-important. It was another one of the those reminders that all these comings and goings are just maya and in the bigger scheme of your life are not very important. Most will go through their whole life in this way. It’s times like these that are reminders to me of what our real purpose is here on this earth, to connect with God inside our self and in others. It’s that special time that you spend to work on developing your own spiritual self and keeping that connection with God/Guru.

It has been a bit lonely the past few days as my wife Arjan and daughter charanjeet went to Vancouver, Canada for the Khalsa Ladies Camp, and Narayan went off to Georgia to visit with his Grandparents. When all the kids are here you feel like you want a break, but then when they are all gone it feels so strange and quiet. I guess I have gotten used to have my children and family close, and so when they are not there I really miss them. I guess it is just another reminder to appreciate having a beautiful family and not take this time for granted.

This morning I was meditating and reflecting over all the comments and the email that someone sent me and I thought of a few things. In terms of Sikh judging and criticizing others I started thinking about the meaning of the word "Sikh". Which is a student and learner, always open and hopefully going through the many tests of life. Somehow narrowmindedness and judgment doesn’t seem be part of the Sikh lifestyle. When you look at Guru Nanak’s message of oneness; Many paths…..one God, it just doesn’t feel right that Sikhs in general can be so closed minded and critical of each other. The basic philosophy of Sikhi is oneness (Ik Ong Kaar), and yet people to often fall into the trap of the "right and wrong" game. That is a hindu thing…that is not Sikhlike, that is this…that is that. Everyone goes on some path in life and this is different for everyone. Of course there is no one way….and no way which is the "right" way, yet people always feel like their way of thinking is the correct way. I guess it’s just part of the learning process for us all as we hopefully evolve to be more God conscious people.

I was working most of today and then it came to my attention this evening that "BV Singh" had started up a SikhNet Discussion forum topic criticizing SikhNet and the image that we had of the Siri Guru Granth Sahib on SikhNet. I responded to the topic and then locked it because it was out of control and people just throwing harsh critical words.

From time to time people pop up on SikhNet and have some type of "self-righteous campaign" where they very rudely try get everyone’s attention by criticizing something, as if they are doing their duty to "Protect Sikh Dharma". Almost all the time in these situations their conscious/unconcious goal appears to be to seek attention. It’s as if their life is so unmeaningful and empty, that they need to create a drama to make them feel like they are doing something good/right. In these situations when someone is doing this I always hear about it after they have started their "campaign". If I had a problem with something with some website and felt strongly about it then I would diplomatically try to contact the site and start a dialog. But if the intention was to make peace and get some resolution then they of course wouldn’t go about things how they do criticising and ranting about what wrongs have been done.

I am very grateful to my parents, SSS Harbhajan Singh Khalsa Yogiji, and all those people who I grew up with who taught me so much. Probably the most important thing I learned and absorbed into my being is open-mindedness. Most of the people that I grew up with were from so many different cultural and religious backgrounds that you had to be accepting and open since people were learning and coming from so many different places. If we were all hyper-critical of each other then most would not have become Sikhs. Part of being a Sikh is acceptance of all and always being a learner. By judging others you close your mind and lose the opportunity to learn more. Even if I disagree with the way that someone does something I still respect that even though their way might not work for me, that it might work for them. That’s the beauty of this lifestyle is that there are so many paths and ways. The Sikh Guru’s gave us the base to live by, and the rest we figure out for ourselves in our own way. They gave us certain "tools" to help us along the way. Some people choose to use these tools and others do not. One cannot judge those who don’t, or think that they are better because they do. To me this is one of the biggest changes that I think needs to happen with the Sikh community.  To shift from the "rules" mentality to a more open and accepting direction where everyone feels included and accepted no matter what their level of commitment. What happens these days is that people who might not follow the path in a specific way are pushed away. I hear about this all the time from youth and adults who cut their hair and are excluded and pushed away.

I remember the whole debate that went on in the sikhnet discussion forum and through emails to SikhNet when we first switched to the new SikhNet site/design. One of the header images had a Sikh man who’s hair was cut and beared trimmed (along with many other individuals who were wearing turbans). Some people protested and commented at how this person was not a Sikh and it sets a bad example. What they failed to realize is that this one person in the group of many in this image represents a significant number of people that are a part of the Sikh community. They may or may not have a regular practice with Sikhi, but it is not for us to judge them. We should make them feel welcome and share our love, so that they may get a deeper understanding and respect for the teachings that the Gurus left for us.

I guess what I am saying is that it is all a matter of perspective. Many times we see what we want to see, which isn’t necessarily the truth. We see things through our own frame of reference of how we were raised and taught. Particularly what we were taught was good or bad effects this picture. These situations are perfect learning experiences. When something like this comes into my head and I feel that judgement welling up….I watch my thoughts and open up and try to see a bigger picture. It really does help. 

Ok…I think I have ranted a bit so will stop before this becomes a book. I was just thinking about all this and wanted to write it down. My only hope is that by sharing thoughts like these that others will open their minds and start to think differently. When you catch yourself thinking certain ways and you watch your thoughts as if you are looking at another person…then you are in good shape. When you can do this, then you can catch yourself before it comes out as an action or correct your thinking in realtime. That’s the first stage where you are concious of your thoughts and actions. The problems come when you unconciously do things.

To end I wanted to  share with you a beautiful translation by Guruka Singh Khalsa of Guru Nanaks’s "Japji Sahib" which sums everything up perfectly. Part of the reason for reading these banis (prayers) every day is to remind us. If only we could all live these teachings every moment of our life. We have to start somewhere :)

JAPJI – Meditation of the Soul

You are the only Creator of this One Creation.

You are TRUTH,
The Doer of everything.

Beyond fear,
Beyond revenge,
Beyond death…

Image of the Infinite.

Unborn and Independent.

The Guru’s gift…

Meditate:

PRIMAL TRUTH,

TRUE FOR ALL TIME,

TRUE AT THIS INSTANT,

OH NANAK!

FOREVER TRUE.


By thinking and thinking
Nothing happens…
Though I may think a thousand times.

Deep in silence
Nothing happens…
Though the string of longing plays.

The hungry people stay hungry,
With the weight of the world on their backs.

You may be incredibly clever,
But you can’t take it Home with you.

How can I live the Truth?
How can I cut through the net of lies?

Walk in God’s Will
Within and without.

Oh Nanak!
It’s written in your Soul. 1.

In God’s Will all structures are formed,
Beyond words.

In God’s Will all Souls are formed,
And become great.

In God’s Will
We are high or low.

In God’s Will are pleasure and pain.
In God’s Will are loss and gain.

God’s Will is alive within us.
No one is without it.

Oh Nanak!
When you understand God’s Will,
All thoughts of self depart. 2.

(Continue reading or download the full text at the bottom of the linked page)  

12 Responses to “Important Things in Life?”

  1. Kanwar Singh says:

    All that you can do is cast a wide a net as possible and not concern yourself with the reaction of one segment of the community towards the inclusion of another.  I honestly feel that a lot of non traditional Sikhs in their thirties are looking for a way into the faith.

  2. Parminder Singh says:

    WJKK WJKF Bhaisaheb,

    Very well written.

    “Bura bhalla kaho kis no kahiye, sagle jee tumhare…”
    (http://www.sikhitothemax.com/page.asp?ShabadID=1484)

    I just realized while reading this article that I’ve been so judgemental lately, not only for people around me but in my family too.

    Thanks for reminding an important Sikh principle!

    May Guru Bless the world with peace and Chardikala!

  3. vjkkvjkf

    Keep Up Singh!  We’ll all get there together.

    Guru continue to bless you with seva and the commitment to see it through.

  4. Shanu kaur says:

    haha amasing how I had a conversation with Dad this morning about the same thing…We may all have our own opinions or whatever but that’s all they are..opinions, so there’s no right or wrong. If someone feels like there’s a problem then people should talk it through like real Sikhs..just like Guru Nanak Dev Ji did. Or accept the differences and move on despite them…not go all hostile and refuse to hear anothers’ views and what not.

  5. I agree with Gurumustuak Ji. 

    I was thinking of this thing for many days to share. Actually we should recognize the differences. While our Khalsa Panth is a complete way of life, we should follow teachings of Sikh Gurus but at the same time , should not say that all other religions are not good. Gurmat is a huge reservior of knowledge and Gyan. There is no limit. So instead of arguments we should concentrate on practice of Naam and Gurbani, and with passage of time, you learn yourself what is truth – you don’t have to ask anyone for that.  And at the same time you also learn to recognize others as form of God.

    Visar Gaee sab taat paraee, jab te sadh sangat mole paee. ( I have lost all ill-will for others when I got accompany of pure ones).

    There are differences but we should not critize others. And another thing, when you start getting Gyan/knowlege, you start comparing with others and critize them, but  you don’t know that this Gyan is endless. To get all Gyan, you should be cool and concentrate on your weaknesses.

    With the yardstick of Gyan, evaluate yourself – not others.

    In reply to question, how many students you gathered, Siri Singh Sahib Ji said – only one. And who is that. He said its me.

    So a Sikh is always a learner and he continuously works towards teachings of Gurus.

    Thanks Gurumustuk Ji for this wonderful writing.

    Balbir Singh Khalsa
    GuruKhalsa.org

  6. Wahe Guru Ji Ka Khalsa. Wahe Guru Ji Ki Fateh,
    Those who insult and find fault and speak negatively are living in pain and misery.
    Thank God we are not them.
    BLESS THEM AND THANK GOD FOR OUR blessings.
    Mata-ji

  7. You are beautiful and gracious and divine.
    Keep up the good work.

  8. Balprem Kaur says:

    Sat Nam Gurumustuk Singh!

    Thank you for all you do on this website.  Hopefully, more non-Sikh’s will find this site and find it educational and objective.

     I call myself Christian and my Christian family would probably say I am not because I believe  a lot of the same beliefs as Sikh.  We all go our own path in this life and I believe we all eventually get to the same place.  It is not for us to judge who is right and who is wrong as that is up to God.  So, I have a real problem in that area when certain faiths profess equality and acceptance for all but yet  if you don’t believe in a certain way, you will perish.   A little hypocrital to me.  How do we know, as mere sinful human beings, know what way is the right way? 
    We should pray for those people who are critical of other faiths, races, etc. and hope that their eyes will be open and truely love and accept all otheres regardless of their background.  Many that are critical or negative may be misinterpreting what their are reading or are going only on their own perceptions.  We all perceive things based on our own cultural backgrounds, beliefs and education.  Or maybe they are just having a bad day, week or year.  Who knows?
    Blessings,
    Balprem Kaur

  9. Mahan Deva Kaur says:

    Sat Nam,
    You continue to uplift us ji, thank you!
    As I previously posted in response to “Ignorance & Anger:
    When I think of our Beloved Guru Nanak’s inspiration as the founder of  Sikhism, it was to dispel  persecution and bigotry due to one’s religion, “caste”, gender,  race etc.
    Nanak ji came out of the water and blessed us with the eternal Song of the Soul;  JAPJ.
    In Guru Nanak’s words there is the divine knowledge that belongs to All, and it is in this bani that one can grasp the essence of Sikhi.

    So my hope for all is that when reciting Japji, (and all the daily banis) that we take time to allow the  EXPERIENCE  of  Naam to awaken  the Infinite love and truth within us. In so doing may we shine the Light of Wahe Guru in service to all.   
    Let us be steadfast in our grace and tolerance and may we strive to uplift rather than slander.  May we know that we all come from One Creator who blessed us with this human life. We all have the birthright to follow our own unique soul’s journey. It is ALL God’s Will.
    It is in the EXPERIENCE of Naam that the pain of ignorance is released.
    When the Golden Temple was built, it was done so with foor doors, in each direction to show that ALL are welcome.  It is time to open our minds and hearts to more than one direction.”

    Thank you for posting Guruka Singh’s beautiful translation of Japji. As I stated above the
    experience  of JAPJI is transformational.  It is this beautiful translation that welcomed me to Guru;s feet and actually saved my life! 
    Mata Mandir does the most wonderful & pure version on his cd “japji” .  Guruka Singh wrote this translation in a rythm which when sung be Mata Mandir  touches the deepest parts of the soul and the message of Japji becomes a part of you.  You Experience You through Japji !!
    And in my case nurtured me so that I could remain in this body a bit longer!
    And it is only because I learned through these servants of  Guru, to befriend my soul, to connect with the Divine Infinity within and without. My soul’ s longing was screaming at me through this illness. Finally, I heard !
    The beauteous light of Guru spread through Guruka Singh & Mata Mandir Singh’s gifts and saved this one soul in need!  Wahe Guru!
    to order this cd:  

    http://www.yogaofsound.com/Pages/japi.html

    Mata Mandir also includes a wonderful Gurmuki version on this cd .

    Blessing to All,

     Mahan Deva kaur

  10. gurmeet singh says:

    Waheguru ji da khalsa te waheguru ji di fateh, Iam a 19 years sikh boy ,now a dayz i am very depressed to not follow my dharam.For this i did lots of things i prayed to waheguru,i talked with lots of my seniors, but i got nothing, when i was 18 ,i was a sikh and totally devoted to god(waheguru),but after stepping in new city i am helpless. So ,Kindly help me as a big brother or father, or grand father, plz plz plz help me i will forever grateful to you ,and always pray for your happiness and your sikhi life.

  11. G Singh says:

    ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ॥ ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹ॥
    Gurmustak Singh Jee, I think the person who has something does not criticize others. As Bhagat Kabir Jee said in gurbani:
    ਕਹੁ ਕਬੀਰ ਛੂਛਾ ਘਟੁ ਬੋਲੈ ॥
    Kaho Kabīr cẖẖūcẖẖā gẖat bolai.
    Says Kabeer, the empty pitcher makes noise,

    ਭਰਿਆ ਹੋਇ ਸੁ ਕਬਹੁ ਨ ਡੋਲੈ ॥੪॥੧॥
    Bẖari­ā ho­ė so kabahu na dolai. ||4||1||
    but that which is full makes no sound. ||4||1||

    Many of the problems Sikhs are facing today have arisen out of this criticizing mind-set. For example, there was a hukamnama from Sri Akal Takhat sahib prohibiting the use of chairs in langars. So called Sikhs like me used this opportunity to divide Sikh community. Some said we are not going to follow the hukamnama sahib, some said we are. The result: Gurudwara Dashmesh Darbar Surrey was built. Now this could have been settled very diplomatically. Are these two groups enemies? No, they both call themselves Sikhs. So the aim of Sikh should be to raise the self to the highest level with the grace of God. What did they do? Divide the sangat and build a new gurdwara. Either one group could have showed that they are learning to walk on the path of Gursikhi and showed some humbleness. Gurbani asks us to :
    ਹੋਇ ਇਕਤ੍ਰ ਮਿਲਹੁ ਮੇਰੇ ਭਾਈ ਦੁਬਿਧਾ ਦੂਰਿ ਕਰਹੁ ਲਿਵ ਲਾਇ ॥
    Ho­ė ikaṯar milhu mėrė bẖā­ī ḏubiḏẖā ḏūr karahu liv lā­ė.
    Come and join together, O my Siblings of Destiny; dispel your sense of duality and let yourselves be lovingly absorbed in the Lord.

    ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮੈ ਕੇ ਹੋਵਹੁ ਜੋੜੀ ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਬੈਸਹੁ ਸਫਾ ਵਿਛਾਇ ॥੧॥
    Har nāmai kė hovhu joṛī gurmukẖ baishu safā vicẖẖā­ė. ||1||
    Let yourselves be joined to the Name of the Lord; become Gurmukh, spread out your mat, and sit down. ||1||

    If we have a problem, Gurbani asks us to sit together and eliminate the differences by talking with the grace of waheguru.

    You are absolutely right. We call ourselves Sikhs meaning students, and we start criticizing others from the very instant we think we are Sikhs. Sikh means “I know nothing waheguru, bless me with knowledge, give me the company of your briliant students Gursikhs so that they can guide me.”

    May Waheguru bless everyone.
    Nanak Naam Chardi Kala, Tere Bhane Sarbat Da Bhalla.

    Readers, please forgive me for lots of mistakes I have made here!

  12. Prabhmeet Singh says:

    for GURMEET SINGH….

    My dear broher I want ot help to understand our Dharam better and be a good sikh and more importantly be a good, happy , prosperous human being. You can openly talk or write ot me and I will be more than happy to answer alll your questons. I am based in India, 243 years old yound devoted Sikh….you can call me at +91 9823326514. or meail me at [email protected] or [email protected]. We can even chat. Just tell me the tiem to come online.My time zonei is GMT+ 5.30 hours. may Guru bless you. Do write or call me I would surley help you brother……